I read this somewhat lengthy article which predicts drastic changes in the educational culture as we know it today, and was struck by the plausibility of Frey's ideas. I would strongly recommend this article to anyone interested in the future of education. I've done my best to summarize some the key points below.
First, Frey makes use of a term that I have now heard in two different places: disruptive innovation. This is the same term used by author Clayton M. Christensen in his book Disrupting Class. From what I have read, disruptive innovation is an idea that is not initially accepted or heralded by a large number of people, but is embraced and developed by a small band of "disruptors." Overtime, the innovation improves, drops in price, and gains popularity. Suddenly, the innovation becomes so popular that it replaces the industry standard seemingly overnight. Many industry giants are toppled by disruptive innovation. A perfect example of disruptive innovation is digital photagraphy.
In the context of education, on-line learning is the disruptive innovation. It is not the industry standard, but is slowly gaining market share and popularity. The traditional classroom is still the standard in education around the world. 10 years ago, on-line education was a thing of the future. Now, the Sloan Consortium is reporting that over 1 million k-12 students are taking on-line courses. The disruptive innovation of the past is rapidly becoming the standard of the future.
Back to the article by Thomas Frey...
Frey believes that on-line education will become the standard form of education, but two things must be developed before this can occur:
"The primary missing pieces are a standard architecture for an organic courseware module and the software necessary to build this courseware. The solution to these missing pieces will be a participative courseware-builder that allows the general public to create courses on any conceivable topic. We expect many companies will attempt to solve this problem, but the market will quickly gravitate towards the one it likes best."
Frey believes that ultimately, an iTunes-like system will emerge that will allow individuals and companies to easily create and distribute original courses on every topic immaginable. Once the tools to easily create and distribute courseware is available, an explosion of content will occur similar to the way that iTunes created a market for podcasts.
Frey's predictions go well beyond any that I have heard or read from other places predicting that all education K-doctoral degree, will be done virtually. Schools will become tutoring centers and access points for courses rather than disseminators of instruction.
One prediction that Frey makes is not well supported or explained- confidence based learning.
"Confidence-based learning is designed to ensure that learning actually takes place and mastery of a topic is achieved. It is much more than simply delivering information to students. It ensures learning by assessing precisely what people know and what they don’t know without guesswork and doubt skewing the results. It then works to rapidly remediate a learner’s gaps in knowledge and confidence."In a nutshell, as best as I can discern, confidence based learning is a type of assessment that has the ability to determine the confidence level of a person as they answer questions on subject material. This addition can account for test takers who are good guessers. While it sounds good in theory, Frey gives no insight on how this will be done or who has or is developing the technology to do it. This assessment plan is a key component to the instruction of the future.
I admit that I am a bit biased when it comes to discussing the future of education. I firmly believe that the majority of instruction will be done through virtual learning within the next 20 years. As a young educator with a long career in front of me, I am doing everything I can to position myself to be a player in the new educational environment.